New parliamentary probe into UK’s nuclear power strategy
19 July 2022
The Commons Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the Government’s approach to developing new nuclear power.
The Government have committed to approving up to eight new nuclear fission reactors by 2030 in its energy security strategy, released following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The inquiry will consider what interventions are required to achieve this and the Government’s aim for nuclear to supply 25% of electricity by 2050.
MPs will review the funding and regulation of nuclear power, including the provisions in the Energy Security Bill introduced into Parliament recently, the status of the different nuclear power technologies and their role in achieving the net zero by 2050 target.
The launch of the inquiry comes as the reactors at Hinkley Point B nuclear plant are shut down. More than half of the UK's 11 nuclear reactors are due to be retired by 2025 with no immediate replacements, an approach which was criticised in a recent Public Accounts Committee report. The Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry will examine how the gap in nuclear generating capacity, which currently accounts for around 15% of the UK’s electricity, will be filled and energy supply protected.
The inquiry seeks evidence on the technical challenges facing the next generation of nuclear power plants, what further research and development is required to build capacity and how the management of nuclear waste can be improved. Following on from the Committee’s one-off evidence session on Fusion in May, the inquiry will also further investigate the viability of and progress towards achieving fusion power.
Terms of reference
Submit written evidence
The Committee invites written submissions by 23.59 on Friday 30 September, addressing any or all of the following questions:
- What technical challenges do the next generation of nuclear fission power plants, including Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Modular Reactors, face?
- What support or interventions are required to bring these technologies to the grid as soon as possible?
- When will fusion power supply electricity to the grid?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of developing fusion technologies over other energy sources?
- What could be done to ensure that the UK’s electricity supply is not affected by the high proportion of reactors being decommissioned?
- How can the Government ensure that the cost of decommissioning does not increase any further?
- How can lessons learnt from decommissioning programmes be used to benefit new nuclear power programmes?
- What needs to be done to improve the UK’s approach to dealing with nuclear waste and to ensure that the Government can meet its aims of transferring waste to geological disposal facilities?
- How can the funding methods that support the development of nuclear technologies be improved?
- How can the UK leverage further private investment in this area?
- What support will industry need to meet the Government’s ambitions for delivery new nuclear power plants in the next decade?